Live from the Barbican: BBC Symphony Orchestra with Sakari Oramo
As the UK moves into the first week of a second lockdown, the Barbican lifts spirits by streaming an impressive concert that proves to be mesmeric, despite the shrunken forces of the COVID-compliant orchestra. The BBC Symphony Orchestra, led by Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo and joined by soprano Anu Komsi, deliver an emotionally taut programme, featuring works by Joseph Haydn, Anna Clyne and the premiere of the new chamber arrangement of Magnus Lindberg’s Accused. Running for 60 minutes without interval, the night of intense compositions and impressive stream quality demonstrates the Barbican’s professionalism and makes for an immensely enjoyable experience.
The effect of the empty hall and scattered musicians is at first odd, but in fact it adds an almost haunting atmosphere, working to fully immerse listeners in the emotion-packed programme. The night starts with Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms, a heartfelt piece for strings that is followed with an angsty rendition of Haydn’s Symphony No. 49 (La Passione). Oramo guides the orchestra with vigour, and passion pulses through the room under his baton. The close-up camerawork on instruments and the focused musicians brings a sense of complete involvement in the music and propels the impact of both works.
The night concludes with the world premiere of a voice and orchestra version of Finnish composer Magnus Lindberg’s Accused. A complex political piece and truly the standout performance, Accused explores three different moments of interrogation through history, bringing political relevance and a modern feel to the concert. Soprano Komsi switches impressively between languages with strong, melodic tone, weaving between playing both the victim and the interrogator. Komsi and Oramo work harmoniously to capture the layered emotions of the work, producing gentle moments that juxtapose the aggressive crescendo.
It goes without saying that the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s first live concert of this autumn is a musical triumph. With a strong array of talent paired with the Barbican’s exceptional production quality, the show is not only a joy to listen to but a compelling watch. Amid a challenging year for the industry, the night also acts as a potent reminder of the immense worth of music and how valuable witnessing it live truly is, even from the comfort of home.
Photos: BBC/Barbican/Mark Allan
For further information and future events visit Live from the Barbican’s website here.